New Delhi, June 9 (IANS): In a dramatic escalation of the row between the Central and AAP governments, Delhi Law Minister Jitender Singh Tomar was arrested here Tuesday over his alleged fake law degree. The AAP cried foul and linked it with its anti-corruption campaign.
Delhi Police, which does not report to the AAP government but to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and the Union Home Ministry, told IANS that Tomar was arrested on charges of cheating, criminal conspiracy and forgery.
The Aam Aadmi Party, which took power in Delhi in February, accused police of roughing up Tomar. Delhi Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel said he wasn't informed about the arrest.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia accused Lt. Governor Jung of unleashing an "Emergency-like situation" and said vested interests were ganging up against the AAP government because of its anti-corruption campaign. The AAP, he vowed, won't be cowed down.
A visibly livid Sisodia said although the issue of Tomar's alleged fake degree was in the court, about 40 policemen swooped on Tomar's office early in the morning and took him away as if he was a fugitive.
"The police told Tomar they had come to see some documents... They asked him to accompany them to his house. On the way they told his driver to get off and took charge of his vehicle and told him he was being detained.
"They told Tomar that he could ask someone to bring the documents to the police station...
"What is going on?" asked Sisodia. "Was he (Tomar) running away? Did he explode bombs in Delhi? There is an allegation (against him). The matter is in the court. What was the need to arrest him?"
Sisodia added: "There is something wrong... This arrest is illegal. There is an Emergency-like situation. This is supposed to be a democracy... Maybe it is an attempt to teach the AAP a lesson (for what we are doing)."
AAP supporters, including Tomar's family members, gathered in large numbers at the Vasant Vihar police station in south Delhi where Tomar was being questioned.
Tuesday's arrest peaked a simmering row between the central and AAP governments over the powers of the Delhi government over the posting and transfer of senior officials. This dispute too is also now facing judicial scrutiny.
AAP leader Sanjay Singh said police arrested Tomar without giving any notice.
"If the case relates to a fake degree, will ministers Smriti Irani and Ram Shanker Katheria (of BJP) will also be taken to police station without any prior notice?" Singh asked.
Tomar told CNN-IBN that he didn't know why he was arrested. "Around 30-40 policemen asked me to accompany me to the police station without any prior notice."
He said this was done to tarnish the AAP's image.
Delhi Police said Tomar would be produced in a court later on Tuesday.
Two cases are pending against Tomar in the Delhi High Court, alleging he enrolled himself as an advocate on the basis of a fake law degree and seeking cancellation of his election. Tomar says his degree is genuine.